Three campers outdoor, smiling. One camper is holding a soccer ball

Summer Day Camp Guide

Let’s get ready for day camp! This guide will help you prepare, so your camper can focus on the most important thing — having fun!

Welcome to Y Day Camp

We are very excited to welcome your camper to day camp at the Y. We are honoured that you chose to spend your summer with us. Our staff teams are well equipped to ensure campers get the most out of their camp experience this summer and ignite the potential in all.

Little boy in lifejacket and baseball hat building tent
Our Day Camp Staff

All of our staff:

  • Are 16+ years old
  • Have a clear Vulnerable Police Check
  • Participate in a minimum of 62 hours of training prior to the first day of camp
  • Have experience and a passion for working with children and youth
Staff-to-Camper Ratios
  • Kinder campers (ages 4-5) ratio of 1:8
  • Junior campers (ages 6-8) ratio of 1:10
  • Senior campers (ages 9-12) ratio of 1:12
  • Counsellor in Training participants (ages 13-15) ratio of 1:15
Value Bead Program

Value Beads play an important role as a sign of character and personal achievement. Beads at camp provide recognition and promote positive behaviour and are worn as a reminder of what we value in our camp community. 

Throughout the week, beads are awarded to individual campers for demonstrating our Y Day Camp values of kindness, inclusiveness, respect, integrity, optimism and well-being. Ask your camper how they earned their beads!

Download the YMCA Value Beads Chart

What to Bring to Camp

Each day your camper should be dressed appropriately for the weather, and bring the following along in a backpack:

Man standing outside the YMCA building
  • A healthy nut-free lunch & two snacks 
  • Bug Spray and Sunscreen 
  • Eye glasses case  
  • Hat  
  • Raincoat 
  • Refillable water bottle  
  • Running Shoes  
  • Swimsuit and towel 
  • ** Helmet for biking (Outdoor location only - optional) 
  • Indoor running shoes (Indoor location only - non-marking or white soles)

We strongly encourage families to label all of their camper’s belongings (first and last name) to prevent items from becoming lost. 

What to leave at home?

We ask that campers please leave electronics, toys and other valuable items at home. The Y cannot be held responsible if they are lost or damaged during the camp day.  

What should my camper bring for lunch?

Please pack a lunch that does not require a microwave or a refrigerator. We suggest an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack to keep lunches and snacks fresh all day. We encourage using reusable containers to cut down on waste and litter at our day camp locations. Please note, we do not have utensils on site. Please ensure to pack any required utensils your camper may need for their lunch. Any disposable packaging or uneaten food will be sent home daily as a part of our “Litter Less Lunches” program.  

Fresh drinking water is provided at all day camp locations — please send a refillable water bottle and we’ll remind your camper to keep hydrated throughout the day. 

We are a nut-sensitive environment. Please keep in mind when packing your camper’s snack and lunches that we have many campers with nut allergies. Please do not send any nuts or nut products to camp. 

How can my camper be protected from the sun?

We encourage all parents to apply sunscreen rated SPF 50 or higher to their camper each morning and send them with a hat to wear when outdoors. Please send a labelled bottle of sunscreen to camp each day. Our staff will remind campers to reapply throughout the day, as well as after participating in any water-related activities.

What if my camper loses something at camp?

Although we try to keep campers' items in their backpacks, occasionally things are forgotten. Any items lost at camp are collected daily and kept in the camp office. If your camper loses an item, contact the Camp Director immediately and they will try to find it. All lost items will only be stored on-site for one week, after which they will be donated to a local charity. Unfortunately, the Y cannot take responsibility for lost items. Please check your camper's possessions daily to ensure they arrive home with them.

Pick-Up and Drop-Off

Authorized pick-up individuals must be 16 years of age or older. We will ask anyone we have not met to identify themselves with government-issued photo ID before they can sign out your camper. If someone arrives at camp to pick up your camper without your prior authorization, we will call home for verbal permission before releasing your camper.

Man standing outside the YMCA building
Registered for Extended Hours?

If you have registered your camper for extended hours, you can drop your child off any time between 7:30am – 9:00am. The sign in directions above apply however, if you are dropping at 7:30am that is the earliest arrival time, staff will not be able to sign in your camper(s) before that time. Please pack an extra snack for both AM & PM with a re-fillable water bottle. 

Please ensure you are picking up your camper at the time their program ends. The end of the camp day is 4:00pm. If your camper is registered in extended hours, the latest time to pick up is 6:00pm. 

What if I’m late to pick up my camper?

If you will be more than 5 minutes late from your pick-up time, please call the camp location directly to inform staff on site so arrangements can be made to care for your camper until you arrive.

What if someone else will be picking up my camper?

If you require someone other than the contacts stated on your camper’s registration form to pick up your camper, please inform the Camp Director. Authorized pick-up individuals must be 16 years of age or older. We will ask anyone we have not met to identify themselves with government-issued photo ID before they can sign out your camper. If someone arrives at camp to pick up your camper without your prior authorization, we will call home for verbal permission before releasing your camper.

Can my camper travel to and from camp on their own?

Camper safety is important to the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Campers under age 10 must be signed out at the Y Day Camp location or bus stop, by an individual 16 years of age or older and listed as a main contact or authorized pick up during the registration process. This person will be required to show government issued ID. Campers age 10 + will be permitted to sign out of the Y Day Camp location or bus stop if indicated at time of registration. Campers age 10 + will not be permitted to sign out younger campers.

What if I need to pick up my camper during the day?

If you know in advance, it is best to make arrangements with the Camp Director ahead of time as your camper may be busy with activities when you arrive. This way we can have them ready as it may take some time to prepare them to leave for the day.

What if my camper is going to be absent?

If your camper is going to miss a day of camp, you are not required to make a call. You will receive an automated call to let you know we have not signed your camper in for the day. If you receive a call and signed your camper in, please call the Camp Director.

What if my camper becomes ill during the day?

In the event that your camper becomes ill during the day, we will call you to come and pick them up. If you are unable to pick up your sick camper, you will be required to make alternative arrangements to ensure they are picked up from camp. Until you arrive, our staff will make sure your camper is kept safe and as comfortable as possible.

More Day Camp FAQ

What if my camper cannot speak English well?

Our camp staff team reflects the diversity of the Greater Toronto Area, and many staff speak other languages in addition to English. While we cannot guarantee that staff in your camper’s program will be able to speak a specific language besides English, we can guarantee that our staff will do their best to support all our campers!

Will my camper be supervised at all times?

Yes! Your camper’s safety is of the utmost importance to us. They will remain in their camper group for the duration of the day and be supervised by a staff member at all times.

What if my camper needs medication at camp?

If your camper requires medication during the camp day, please download the Medication Form and ensure you hand it in with the medication directly to a Y staff member. If your camper requires non-prescription medication, please obtain a doctor’s note that includes: 

  • Your camper’s full name 
  • Name of medication 
  • Dosage 
  • Expiry date of the note 
  • Doctor’s signature 
  • Times to administer, or specific signs and symptoms that indicate the medication needs to be administered 

All medications need to be in the original container and labelled with the camper’s name and date of the prescription. All medications are stored in a locked container at camp and can be refrigerated if required. If your camper’s medication is for an emergency (e.g., an epi-pen or puffer), your camper’s counsellor will carry it in their emergency waist pack. 

What if my camper has an anaphylactic allergy?

If your camper has an anaphylactic allergy that requires an epi pen, please download and fill out the Individual Emergency Anaphylaxis Plan and hand it directly to your camper’s staff person on the first day of their program. All epi-pens will be carried by your camper’s counsellor and returned to the camper at the end of the day.

What if there is something I want you to know about my camper before they arrive?

We take the well-being of all our campers seriously! If there is something you would like our camp staff to know about your child before they arrive, please reach out to the Camp Director. 

The email address of the Camp Director and their direct cell phone number will be listed on the Camp Location Pages for your camper’s camp location. The link to the Camp Location Pages will be sent out prior to your camper’s registered program. 

What kind of bathrooms are at camp?

Most of our camp sites have flush toilets. Depending on the location, campers may have access to outdoor portable washrooms with hand-wash stations, or washroom trailers. 

In all cases, we ensure our washrooms are inspected daily and remain clean and ready for our campers to use! 

In the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s commitment to creating spaces that are inclusive, all washrooms at YMCA Day Camps will be all-gender where possible.

Accessibility & Inclusion

The Accessibility and Inclusion program that is offered through YMCA of Greater Toronto Camping and Outdoor Education department, provides support to children between the ages of 4 – 12 years old who require additional support or 1:1 care while participating in our programs. We will do our best to ensure that every child is placed in a program, at a camp location, and with a staff member to best accommodate their needs while with us. Please note that some of our sites are not fully accessible however, we will work with families to discuss options of other locations that will best suit their needs within the GTA.
Use this program to enroll for 1:1 Support.

What happens if my camper is being bullied?

If you or your camper feels uncomfortable about something that is going on at camp, please let the staff at your camp location know immediately so we can help.
Our camp staff are trained to help campers through these types of situations, and will do their best to resolve the conflict. 

Our staff are also trained to identify more serious bullying behaviour, and work toward immediate resolution. Bullying is unwanted repeated behaviour between campers that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  

All situations that involve bullying are treated on an individual basis, keeping the families of the campers informed. Our staff will do their best to understand all sides of the situation and move toward resolution.

What if I have to cancel my camper’s registration?

If you wish to withdraw a participant from a program, you can do so by accessing the participant’s Registration History via your My Y account or by submitting your request to withdraw by email to Withdrawals that are processed online or requested by email 10 days before the start of the program will receive a refund minus an administration fee of 10% per program being withdrawn.
Withdrawal requests received with less than 10 days’ notice will receive a refund minus an administration fee of 50% of the cost of the program being cancelled. These requests must be submitted by email to A doctor's note is required for any withdrawal due to medical reasons.
Refunds are not granted for inclement weather.
Any request received after the start of the course will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Refunds take 2–3 weeks to process.

What happens during inclement weather?

Camp programs continue to run, rain or shine! 

Please take the time to review the daily weather forecast each morning and prepare your camper for the day (e.g., rain boots, rain jacket, warm sweater, etc.). Camp staff also review the daily weather report and make decisions to ensure our campers are safe. Most private and YMCA Health & Fitness Centre locations have adequate indoor space for campers to take shelter during inclement weather. At our outdoor locations, we use a combination of tents and permanent structures to take shelter as needed. 

In the event of a thunderstorm, we will adapt programs to ensure campers are safe. Please note that water-based activities, including but not limited to boating, swimming and water play, will not occur during or immediately after a thunderstorm. 

In the event of an extreme heat alert, alterations to programs will be made to ensure campers are safe. Activities will be moved into shaded areas, inside, and more water-based activities will be played. As always, campers will be reminded to reapply sunscreen and drink water frequently throughout the day. 

What communication can I expect leading up to camp?

We communicate mainly through email and will send information to the main contact we have on file to get your camper(s) ready for the summer. 

At the end of May, we begin our countdown to summer camp!
 A general email will be sent to share details of our monthly online Welcome to Camp Information Session and reminders about bussing and extended-hour registration.
 One week before your child’s camp starts, we will send a Welcome to Camp email with day camp location-specific information, including drop-off and pick-up instructions and the Camp Director’s name and contact information. We’ll also share program-specific details at this time.
You can also expect to receive an automated phone call from the Camp Director the Thursday before camp starts.

If you are eager to know more now, review the location page of the camp(s) you have registered for. These location pages are on our website under the Summer Day Camp Locations header. Or you can read through a list of FAQ found on this page, where you can also find a recommended packing list.

If you are not receiving our emails or previously unsubscribed to the Y’s emails, please contact to adjust your account settings or set up a new email address.